The Tesla Model S is fast, and chic. In P100D guise, super car performance is wrapped in a paired-back-luxury glove.
It is a brick wrapped in silk. Subtly and minimalism belie the cutting edge ecosystem which supports it. The “100” tells people how much you paid and how many hours you can stay on the road between charges.
On first inspection, the big Tesla is a handsome, but unremarkable execu-hatch. The market is lousy with them. So, what makes the Model S special?
It’s not the gorgeous (optional) 21” wheels. They look even more enormous on such a low-slung jalopy.
You look quizzically at the façade, not knowing exactly what is missing, then it hits you. There is no grille. The exterior is uncluttered, with the chrome door handles flush with the body.
Control us via the Tesla Model S-shaped key fob, or an app on your smart phone. As you approach it awakes, unfolds its mirrors, and exposes the doors. The app works from anywhere there is WiFi/cell reception regardless of location.
Lights front and back are power-saving LEDs headlights monitor conditions ahead and always keep the road fully lit with auto High Beam.
Touch the boot on the mini Tesla twice and the hatch, doors or “funk” open.
The doors as light as a feather, and the windows are frameless.
The cabin has a touch of pared-back luxury about it. Carbon fibre, leather, and metal trim look classy. It is just the way a self-driving pod should look.
The supportive seats are delicate works of art. Door handles are molded into the door itself.
The only buttons are for windows, and auxiliary steering wheel controls. Except for the hazard flashers and glove box buttons, the only other controls are steering column stalks.
There is an LCD screen placed in front of the driver, and a massive tablet portrait-style in the centre. All functions, including the sunroof, can be controlled from it. Some functions can also be controlled by the steering wheel controls, including the sunroof.
Touch the Tesla symbol on the centre tablet, the pull the menu down to find hidden functions Satnav can be set to a moon scape, Ludicrous PLUS, a sketch pad, and Christmas mode for indicators and driver instruments can be selected. Then, every time you turn the indicators on, they jingle.
Tapping the Lotus Esprit gives the readouts a marine theme.
It’s worth going into a Tesla showroom just to experience them in person. While you’re there, check the “Merry Xmas” dance on the Model X.
Kid-glove-like seating for 5 is snug, like a and feels personally molded passengers. Space is by no means capacious. Instead, you feel cocooned.
Ludicrous PLUS mode can be found in either the secret features menu or the driving mode menu.
Everything is electric, even the door openers.
Should there ever be a bio-attack, your Model S can create a positive atmosphere in the cabin to keep the nasties out.
- Auto software updates
- Functions controlled by centre tablet and smart phone app.
- Smart cruise control with “auto pilot” driverless mode.
- Smart sat-nav including directions to charging stations.
- Under floor batteries for low centre of gravity.
- Walk away locking
- Remote unlocking/start (from anywhere with phone access)
- Car can be recycled including batteries
- Ludicrous, Ludicrous PLUS, Sport, and Chill driving modes
- Fully automated parking mode
- Summon mode operated from smart phone app.
Exclusive to Model S P100D:
- 3 motor All-wheel drive
- Ludicrous speed upgrade
- High power charger
- Tesla red brake callipers
- Enhanced Autopilot ($6,900)
- Sunroof ($2,800)
- 21″ Sonic carbon twin turbine wheels ($6,200)
- Black Premium interior with carbon fibre
- Dark headliner
- Premium upgrades package
- Smart air suspension
- Premium sound
- Subzero weather package
Drive and Engine
Model S is supple, and silky. You move in silence.
Batteries account for the hefty 2,400 kg weigh-in.
The drive is as calm or as frantic as you wish. Drive modes are Chill, Sport, Ludicrous, and Ludicrous PLUS.
Tesla have an autonomous driving mode called AutoPilot. If a destination is entered into SatNav, no driver input is required. However, Australia disallows full automation, so the driver must keep hands on the wheel at all times.
Tesla super chargers for are cost free for Tesla owners. E-Car chargers at Westfield will give you 80k per hour of charge, and home units will give you 20k per hour of charge.
It feels completely planted to the road. Steering is uber-light and ride is excellent most of the time.
- 5 star (tested 2015)
- Auto Pilot and smart cruise control
- Lane Warning and active guidance
- Reversing camera
- Cross traffic warning
- Blind spot monitoring
- Vehicle safety monitoring.
- Emergency notifications
- GPS Vehicle tracking
- Remote access
- Handsome looks
- Subtle and elegant cabin design
- AWD with dual motors
Not So Good Bits
- Range anxiety towards end of charge
- Limited super chargers
- Some suspect shutlines
Driving a Tesla is a uniquely personal experience. Nothing else comes close to match the comfort and economy.
Once you own a Tesla you become part of Tesla ecosystem. The system supports drivers. Tesla always knows where your car is. It is also displayed on your phone app. You can even unlock and activate driving mode remotely to allow someone to move the care without the key. You could be on Argentina yet allow your mate to drive the car around Canberra.
Servicing is almost completely unnecessary. If the batteries and motors are good, the only thing you really need to do is rotate the tyres.
Your car will update itself if it is in cell range, but you can’t drive while software is updating.
In one final nod to the power of a Tesla: a Model X towed a Boeing 737-800 on the tarmac at Melbourne airport on the 15th of May, 2018.
It can already drive itself and only needs a change of legislation to make it legal to remove hands from wheels.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Tesla Model S P100D
- Engine: 3×3-phase induction motors producing 581kW/1250Nm
- Transmission: 1 speed fixed gear
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: 8 Yrs/160,000 km
- Origin: USA
- Price: from $198,100 ($272,994 as tested)